Medicare and Medicaid often thrown around like buzzwords, especially in this day and age. Unfortunately, some people use the terms interchangeable, when in fact, they are two very different programs. Understanding the differences and details of these two programs can make the difference in whether or not you receive the care you need.
First, let’s discuss the similarities. Medicare and Medicaid are both government programs, paid for via taxes, that help to cover healthcare costs of those in need.
But that is where the similarities end.
Medicare is part the federal Social Security program. It is designed to offset healthcare costs for individuals who are 65 years or older and also provides assistance for individuals with certain disabilities.
Medicare provides for
- Medical Coverage
- Prescription Drug
- Hospitalization, include up to 100 days of long term care.
- Privately Purchased Supplemental Insurance
Medicare is available to you regardless of income. However, it is important to remember that Medicare is only available to those who have a recoverable illness, meaning that if you have Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia or another degenerative disease, Medicare will not pay those health care costs.
Medicaid, on the other hand, will pay for long term skilled care, but the program has strict eligibility requirements. It is important to remember that Medicaid is a joint program run by both the state and the federal government. It is also important to remember that every state has different qualification requirements. For example, if you are a single person in a Pennsylvania with $100,000 in the bank, you would not qualify for Medicaid. You would need to spend your assets down to $8,000 or $2,400 prior to applying for Medicaid. While the program is designed to assist the poor, it focuses on children, pregnant women, the elderly and the disabled.
While Medicaid programs differ somewhat from state to state, it is federally mandated that every program assists with:
- Laboratory & other testing services
- Doctor visits
- Nursing services
- Dental services
- Home healthcare services
- Clinic treatment
- Pediatric services
- Screening, diagnosis and treatment services for persons under age 21
To find out more about the Medicaid services available to you visit benefits.gov.
Remember that Medicare is designed to assist the disabled or those 65 years or older and Medicaid is more of a last line of defense to provide healthcare to the impoverished.
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